Mental health unit in line for upgrade
Palmerston North Hospital’s ‘‘austere, unfriendly’’ high-needs unit is expected to be revamped as part of an upgrade of the mental health ward.
The Mid-Central District Health Board is weighing up its options, which include adding more space or a complete rebuild of that part of the hospital.
Mid-Central mental health and addictions services director Christopher Nolan presented an update to the board’s quality and excellence advisory committee recently.
The mental health ward’s area of about 1400 square metres was insufficient, he said in the report.
Options for the upgrade include rebuilding the high-needs unit, which would add 720sqm to the area.
Or there could be a complete rebuild, on an area between 2500 and 2700sqm.
The mental health ward, ward 21, had been identified in the past as having significant risk for patients who might harm themselves.
The ward has been at the centre of scrutiny after a series of suspected self-inflicted deaths.
Other issues included its layout and poor visibility.
The report said the high-needs unit was ‘‘austere, unfriendly and not considered to be conducive to recovery’’.
Although progress was being made, Nolan said there had been some delays.
Committee member Dennis Emery urged his peers to ‘‘please just get on with it’’.
Chief executive Kathryn Cook said they were getting on with upgrading the unit, which was only 15 years old.
‘‘A new build should have a longer life than 15 years, so we don’t want to find ourselves rushing at something and not achieving the outcomes that we need.’’
General manager of finance and corporate support Neil Wanden said there was a slow start, but the project was now ‘‘well on the way’’.
The upgrade would involve ‘‘significant investment’’, and the costs were not yet known.
‘‘We haven’t done detailed design here yet – there’s a lot of work to be done.’’
Wanden said the scale of the options would likely affect the project’s timeframe.
The committee would be informed of the project’s development at a meeting in September.
From there, the recommended option would be developed into a detailed business case.
Upgrade options for Palmerston North Hospital’s mental health ward are being discussed.